MACON, Georgia (MERCER ATHLETICS) - Head volleyball coach Damian Elder announced the addition of three newcomers on Wednesday with the signing of Avery Hoven, Tori Penrod and Ellen James to National Letters of Intent.
"This group of student-athletes will immediately make a difference in our gym, our locker room, and in the Mercer community," Elder said. "As a new staff, we were looking for girls and families who understood the heavy lifting this program requires during their time here. I believe we found the right match in each one of these exceptional athletes. Most importantly, I trust all of our returners, our support staff, and our fans will welcome them with open arms."
Avery Hoven – Hoover High School – Hoover, Alabama
Hoven led the Hoover High Buccaneers to a 42-13 record in 2012 while earning first team All-State honors and Hoover Area All-South Player of the Year recognition. She was named Best Hitter and Best Server in the Birmingham Metro Area by the Birmingham News in 2012, while placing ninth with her partner at the USA Beach Junior National Championships in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Hoven is a four-time honor roll student and was presented the Exemplary Conduct Award for Hoover High.
"Avery and her family impressed us from the moment we met," Elder said. "She relished the idea of being a foundational member of something great, in the way we needed recruits in this class to be. She is an aggressive point scorer from the front court and from the service line, and will push for excellence every moment she is in the gym, weight room, or classroom to be better for herself and her team."
Victoria Penrod – William T. Dwyer – Jupiter, Florida
Penrod captained the Dwyer Lady Panthers in all four high school seasons, while earning 2012 Sun-Sentinel All-County first team and 2011 Palm Beach Post All-Conference first team honors as starting libero for Coach Karole Hannah. An accomplished beach player, Penrod owns USA Volleyball titles in the Under-18 and Under-16 Divisions, as well as a Women's AAA rating in the state of Florida. In addition to her athletic accomplishments, she's been active in Student Government as the Vice President of her class, and is a four-year member of the Future Business Leaders of America.
"Tori is an amazing indoor libero, but she might even be better as a sand player", said Elder. "We were looking for a leader who could make an impact on both our indoor team and our sand team, and Tori fulfills all of those needs with her unique skill set and energy".
Ellen James – Bishop England – Charleston, South Carolina
James, a six-foot Outside Hitter, has capped off her high school career with a South Carolina State Title for coach Cindy Baggott and the Bishop England Bishops. During her career, she's been a three-time Class AA State Player of the Year, a three-time All-Lowcountry selection, and the Charleston Post and Courier Player of the Year. A two-sport athlete, she's also the starting forward for the Bishops' basketball squad and has spent time in Honduras as a volunteer helping renovate a children's home and orphanage with members of St. Andrews Church in Mount Pleasant.
"Ellie will bring with her an ability to terminate from the outside hitting position," Elder said. "She's a long attacker who can be offensive from more than one place on the court. She will come to Division I volleyball with a high ceiling and the physical tools to excel. I believe college training is going to be the key to unlocking Ellie's potential and we look forward to her work ethic inspiring her team to new heights."